‘The sport is so beautiful when the horses are happy’: Dutch star raises gold medal hopes with fantastic performance in Herning

  • The Netherlands’ Sanne Voets has taken over the lead in the Orifarm Healthcare FEI World Para Dressage Championships results, and boosted Dutch hopes of back-to-back world team golds.

    Sanne scored 78.41% with the experienced Vivaldi gelding Demantur Rs2 NOP to shoot to the top of the grade IV World Para Dressage Championships results leaderboard on this first day of team competition, with the USA’s Kate Shoemaker currently second on Quiana. It means the Dutch team, who denied Britain team gold for the first time in para dressage history at the World Equestrian Games in 2018, have got off to the ideal start in Herning.

    They suffered bitter disappointment in Tokyo last year when Sanne, as the last Dutch rider in, came out of the ring thinking she had done enough to win gold, until Sophie Wells’ score was revised upward, handing gold to the Brits. But Sanne explains that the experience has only made her and her teammates hungrier for gold in Herning.

    “We have never been that close before, and although we were happy with silver in Tokyo, here as defending champions, we want to really go for it,” she explained.

    “Being first in [for the team] forces you to focus even more on your own riding, but it doesn’t mean any less pressure as we only have one test so we cannot make any mistakes. My plan was to ride a little bit safely today to make sure we didn’t have any faults, but he felt so good and confident that I thought ‘Why not go for more?’ He just offers so much and there isn’t much I have to do,” said Sanne, who won individual gold earlier in the week.

    “We have such a good partnership and we know each other so well that I can enter the arena and just feel how much of a risk I can take – today it didn’t feel like a big risk [to push for more]. He loved the applause at the end and I think he felt pretty proud of himself. That’s when the sport is so beautiful when the horses are happy and confident.”

    The grade IV has kicked off the the team competition out in Herning, with Brits Lee Pearson and Georgia Wilson to get the British team campaign started this afternoon in grade II. Georgia will ride Sakura at 2.45pm local time (1.45pm BST), while Lee will ride Breezer at 4.34pm (3.34pm BST).

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